Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A couple days ago we noted Chris Suellentrop's mention of the 'Bush Pledge', the loyalty oath attendees at a Bush-Cheney event in Florida were called on to recite.

I've got a question: How often is this happening? At how many events? In how many different states?

If you can provide me with any details -- whether something you've seen yourself or from local press coverage -- please let me know.

Late Update: Later we'll also be discussing what they say about Kerry and Edwards at those Bush rallies before they let the travelling press in room. Today in Florida, Kerry the favorite of foreign terrorists. Or 'When the terrorists come to your house, who would you rather have on your front porch: John Kerry and his SNOWBOARD??? Or George W. Bush and his shotgun?' Or on a lighter note, jokes hinting that Kerry and Edwards are gay lovers. That, and so much more.

Received yesterday from a reader down in the <$NoAd$>trenches ...

Still in Florida.

This was one of the most moving, meaningful days of my life.

My job is to get people to the polls and, more importantly, to keep them there. Because they’re crazily jammed. Crazily. No one expected this turnout. For me, it’s been a deeply humbling, deeply gratifying experience. At today’s early vote in the College Hill district of East Tampa -- a heavily democratic, 90% African American community — we had 879 voters wait an average of five hours to cast their vote. People were there until four hours after they closed (as long as they’re in line by 5, they can vote).

Here’s what was so moving:

We hardly lost anyone. People stood outside for an hour, in the blazing sun, then inside for another four hours as the line snaked around the library, slowly inching forward. It made Disneyland look like speed-walking. Some waited 6 hours. To cast one vote. And EVERYBODY felt that it was crucial, that their vote was important, and that they were important.

And there were tons of first time voters. Tons.

Aside from some hassles from the Republican election commissioner ( … [ed.note: Here the letter writer describes various shenanigans intended to exacerbate the difficulties of waiting hours in line to vote. I’ve censored this detail to preserve the anonymity of the writer.], I actually had an amazing experience. No, actually, in a way because of that I had an amazing experience. Because these people know that the system that’s in place doesn’t want them voting. And yet they are determined to vote.

The best of all was an 80 year old African American man who said to me: “When I first started I wasn’t even allowed to vote. Then, when I did, they was trying to intimidate me. But now I see all these folks here to make sure that my vote counts. This is the first time in my life that I feel like when I cast my vote it’s actually gonna be heard.”

To see people coming out — elderly, disabled, blind, poor; people who have to hitch rides, take buses, etc — and then staying in line for hours and hours and hours... Well, it’s humbling. And it’s awesome. And it’s kind of beautiful.

Sometimes you forget what America is.

I think there’s hope.


Nothing to add ...

Are some of our more gullible press colleagues already falling for Mr. Rove's 'bandwagon theory' antics?

I'm afraid it may be so.

If you look at The Note today, the lede is all about the growing realization that the polls are all moving for Bush. This can be seen in the national polls, it seems, and also in the mounting confidence from the Bush camp. Even Democrats are beginning to concede the point, it seems.

Only, if you look down into the text down in The Note itself none of this is born out. And that makes sense when you consider that the national polls show no Bush movement whatsoever. At best for Bush, the national polls seem static. And as I've noted below there are at least some signs of movement to Kerry.

(I will note that there's another public poll coming out later today with a 48%-45% likely voter margin for Bush. But we'll have to see how that stacks up against the various other public polls that will be coming out over the next 36 hours. Meanwhile, Ed Kilgore's got some more sage thoughts on the Rove band-wagon gambit.)

As for the Bush team's budding confidence, please. I've already referred back a few times this season to the second post I ever did on this site, almost exactly four years ago, on November 12th, 2000. That was when this site was just a tiny white strip of text against a vast blue background and not the media collosus it is now, with whippersnapper MBAs and quarterly reports and boards of directors and what not.

Back then I noted how in 2000 the Bush campaign spent the last week or so confidently predicting a popular vote margin of 6% or 7%. And to drive home the point they spent the last couple days making stops in California and New Jersey.

There was never any chance that Bush would win those states. And there were very good chances he'd lose or come close to losing several states essential to victory, as the final results showed. The entire point of making those trips was to scam the press and create an aura of inevitability that would shape press coverage and depress morale among Democrats. The perception would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They clearly saw that as the best use of their resources in the final days.

It's so much a part of their election and governing mentality that I wrote a whole article on it.

That's exactly what they're going to try to do this time.

Don't fall for it.

George W. Bush on leadership, as told to Bob Woodward ...

"I do not need to explain why I say things. — That's the interesting thing about being the President. — Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

One-time GOP Quasi-Moderates Losing Their Dignity for W. Watch ...

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson says that it's "obvious to anybody that looks at" at the OBL video that he wants John Kerry elected president.

Perhaps Thompson was there for the briefing where President Bush told members of Congress that OBL's main aim was to drive him from office.

More wobbles and noise.

As of Sunday morning, the two tracking polls with new numbers out -- Zogby and WaPo/ABC -- show, remarkably, the exact same thing: dead even at 48%.

For Zogby that's Bush going up one, for WaPo it's Bush going down one.

On one level, it's somewhat striking that these two polls, which seem to employ very different methodologies, should be in perfect agreement, at least on this one day. It also provides more evidence -- though certainly not conclusive -- against the assumption that the OBL tape would trigger last-minute Bush momentum.

Also of interest is the Fox poll, with a new one out this morning.

From the best I can tell, Fox is running a quasi-tracking poll. They seem to be coming up with a new poll every day or every other day. And each poll includes entirely new data. But the polls seem to be sampled on overlapping days.

So, for instance, on Friday they released a poll taken on Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Saturday they released another taken Thursday and Friday. And now today they have one out taken Friday and Saturday.

The direction of the number is hard to miss: Friday, Bush +5; Saturday Bush +2; Sunday, tied.

Once again the inevitable caveat, these are small differences, possibly accounted for by statistical noise. But it's hard to see anything bad in those numbers for John Kerry and equally difficult to miss that Kerry is doing five points better in the poll taken entirely after the OBL tape than he was in the poll taken entirely before.

Late Update: I failed to note that in a two-way race among likely voters Fox actually has Kerry up by one over Bush, and among registered voters up by two.

As I wrote early Saturday evening, the third day before the election showed the balance of tracking polls moving for Kerry, with one national poll (Fox) trending to Kerry and another (Newsweek) trending to Bush.

For what it's worth, the last poll, the Newsweek poll leaning to Bush, included the oldest data, though only by a hair.

That spread generated this overnight sum-up headline from Ron Fournier and Nedra Pickler of AP: "Poll Shows Bush Moving Ahead of Kerry".

Why did President Bush get Tommy Franks working on Iraq war planning while bin Laden was still holed up at Tora Bora?

Good question. But here's an helpful timeline.

Normally I'd be very skeptical of an article like this one: "Exclusive: Bush Wanted To Invade Iraq If Elected in 2000." According to the article, President Bush was mulling the political benefits of invading Iraq as long ago as 1999.

The second graf of the piece reads ...

“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

As I said, I'd be skeptical.

But Herskowitz is <$Ad$>a storied sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle. He's a Bush family friend. He's co-written numerous 'as-told-to' autobiographies for a slew of famous folks.

He was hired to co-author President Bush's campaign autobiography A Charge to Keep. And even after there were some bumps in the road in that process, the president's father asked Herskowitz to write a biography of his father -- i.e., Prescott Bush, which he did (see Duty, Honor, Country: The Life and Legacy of Prescott Bush, 2003).

On top of that, the author of the piece, Russ Baker, is a journalist with an excellent reputation.

For both those reasons, what's contained in the piece is hard to dismiss. It ain't pretty. And, honestly, it fits the profile.